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Five Convenient and Tasty Instant Foods Available in Supermarkets

There are many instant foods in Japan. Instant foods, which allow you to easily make a variety of dishes, are also recommended as souvenirs. Below are five instant foods that are both convenient and tasty and can be purchased at supermarkets.

1. Cup Noodles

All it takes is waiting a few minutes after pouring in hot water to enjoy steaming hot ramen and other types of noodles. There are shelves dedicated to cup noodles – a food item that can be stored for a long time at room temperature – that showcase a wide variety of noodles, such as ramen, udon, soba and yakisoba. They are reasonably priced, with some costing less than 100 JPY. Even deluxe versions, such as those produced by famous ramen shops, sell at only around 300 JPY. All you need is some hot water, so why not try a few varieties while you are in Japan and take your favorites home as souvenirs?
*Unlike convenience stores, supermarkets will not provide chopsticks unless you request for them, so be sure to ask.

2. Cup Miso Soup

This is another food item that can be made with just hot water. You can have authentic miso soup simply by putting the miso and ingredients into a cup and mixing them with hot water. It is ready to eat as soon as the ingredients soften, so there is hardly any wait. Cup miso soups are available with various ingredients, such as (the standard) tofu and scallions, as well as pork bits and manila clams. Different miso is used for different ingredients, so each soup has its own unique flavor. You won't find soups made with the same miso but different ingredients, so be sure to savor the differences between each bowl! They are usually sold in the miso or bento sections of supermarkets.

3. Microwaveable Deli Items

These can be eaten after simply warming them up in a microwave. You can also warm them up by placing them in hot water for a few minutes (depending on the food item). They are popular among working mothers as a simple way to prepare dinner dishes. More varieties are being introduced every year, including hamburger steak, meatballs, and nikujaga (stewed meat and potatoes). Serve them with pre-packaged rice and you have a quick and easy dinner! Items sold in the refrigerated section must be kept cold, so you cannot take them home as souvenirs.

4. Ochazuke Mixes

Ochazuke is a simple dish made by pouring hot green tea over cooked rice. Sometimes in the summer, cold green tea is poured over rice instead. Ochazuke itself doesn't have much flavor, so it is sometimes eaten with tsukemono (pickles), but ochazuke mixes also come in handy. Ochazuke mixes consist of dried ingredients, powdered dashi soup and green tea powder, so all you need to do is sprinkle them over rice and pour hot water to get tasty ochazuke! You can enjoy the refreshing saltiness, as well as the crunchy texture of the arare (roasted mochi pieces) in this dish. They come in a variety of flavors, so try a few to find your favorite one. Before you set off to see the sights, why not have a simple breakfast of ochazuke made with pre-packaged white rice and ochazuke mix?

5. Pasta Sauce

Japanese people love pasta, so there are many pasta sauces available that can be poured onto or mixed with pasta. There is a wide selection of sauces sold in the pasta section, including those that are popular internationally, such as carbonara sauce, which has a rich cheese flavor. They also sell uniquely Japanese sauces such as Napolitan (ketchup flavor), tarako (cod roe sauce) and wafu (sauces prepared with soy sauce or dashi stock). Why not take some home as souvenirs and have a pasta party to compare them with sauces from your own country?

Did any of these instant foods catch your eye? They are perfect for when you want to have a cheap or quick meal while traveling in Japan. Some can be taken home as souvenirs as well. Make sure to check them out at the supermarket!

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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